Snapshot of growing South-South cooperation between Pacific nations

According to the Pacific Islands Report, Papua New Guinea signaled a shift in its foreign policy with a 100 million kina ($44.3 million) commitment to neighboring Solomon Islands. This is certainly among PNG’s largest commitments oversees, in particular to a Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) member. MSG is an intergovernmental organization, composed of the four Melanesian states of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as well as the FLNKS of New Caledonia.

It is also deemed that PNG and the Solomon Islands will work to formalise a similar agreement with other MSG nations (Vanuatu and Fiji) and other neighbouring Pacific nations outside of the Melanesian sub-region.

Round-table talks also sought to push for economic integration, where both countries agreed to remove all economic barriers and imposition of work permit requirements, labor mobility and trade restrictions including tariffs between the two countries.

In addition to the approximate US$200 million provided to Papua New Guina each year by its biggest donor, Australia, PNG also receives major funding support from Japan, the European Union, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. Volunteers from a number of countries, including the United States, and mission church workers also provide education, health, and development assistance throughout the country.

On the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), starting in Honolulu in November, two efforts are underway to write binding rules. One is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a possible trade agreement among eight small Pacific-rim countries and the United States. Another negotiation is underway in Asia. It builds on trade agreements among 10 Southeast Asian countries and other Asian partners. It is still missing an agreement among China, Japan and Korea, but a ‘CJK’ accord is now in discussion.

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